Australia again denounced for treatment of Aborigines as UN investigates

Members of the Australian Aboriginal community of Ramingining stand next to a machine used to pay for fuel in East Arnhem Land, located east of the Northern Territory city of Darwin, Australia(REUTERS)
Updated 21 March 2017
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Australia again denounced for treatment of Aborigines as UN investigates

SYDNEY : Australia came under fresh criticism over its treatment of its indigenous population on Tuesday as a UN investigator examined the impact of a government takeover of remote communities and as Canberra pushes its bid to join the UN Human Rights Council.
Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders make up just three percent of Australia's population of 23 million people but have disproportionately high rates of suicide, alcohol abuse, domestic abuse and imprisonment, tracking near the bottom in almost every economic and social indicator.
U.N. special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz this week started a 15-day tour to review the impact of laws surrounding the government's 2007 intervention, which was aimed at curbing alcohol abuse, domestic violence and improving health.
"The special rapporteur's visit comes at a time we're hearing harrowing allegations from young people brutalised by the youth justice systems," Tammy Solonec, Indigenous Rights Manager of Amnesty International Australia, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Prime Minister (Malcolm) Turnbull must show federal leadership in setting a national plan to address it."
Australia's human rights record on indigenous issues has come under scrutiny with a royal commission in the Northern Territory and a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria hearing allegations of abuses against juvenile prison inmates.
Australia is seeking two seats on the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, potentially putting it at odds with the global body which has repeatedly criticised Australia's treatment of its indigenous population.
Tauli-Corpuz will investigate issues surrounding indigenous detention conditions, land rights, violence against women and the rate of children removed from their homes, a U.N. statement said. Tauli-Corpuz will report her findings in September.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2016 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners accounted for over a quarter of the total prison population.


‘Unprecedented’ crackdown on crime welcomed by Afghans

Updated 36 min 27 sec ago
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‘Unprecedented’ crackdown on crime welcomed by Afghans

  • Interior Minister Amruallah Saleh's first act was to order his subordinates to ignore the long-standing tradition of presenting politicians with flowers and gowns when they are promoted
  • Saleh has also banned politicians and lawmakers from traveling with their ubiquitous security details (

KABUL: When Amruallah Saleh took office as Afghanistan’s interior minister last month, he wasted no time setting out his stall. His first act was to order his subordinates to ignore the long-standing tradition of presenting politicians with flowers and gowns when they are promoted.

“Lay down the flowers that you have bought as gifts for me on the graves of martyrs who you know from the security forces,” he said in a speech after assuming office last month. “Put the gown that you have bought for me on the shoulders of the broken-hearted fathers of the fallen.”

He went on to discuss his determination to act “mercilessly against criminals and the enemy.” At the time, many assumed Saleh’s comments to be the usual empty political promises so often heard from Afghan politicians assuming office in recent years, particularly as attacks by militants and criminal activity increased in Kabul in the early weeks of Saleh’s tenure. 

However, it seems as though Saleh, a former spymaster, is making good on his promise. The joint measures he has instigated with Kabul’s police chiefs to crack down on crime — including naming and shaming those wanted for involvement in criminal activity — have been a success. Some arrests have already been made, and a number of individuals on the blacklist have reportedly turned themselves in for questioning.

“He has shown decisiveness and courage by naming some of the culprits. That in itself is an initiative that has made people optimistic,” security analyst and retired general Attiqullah Amarkhail told Arab News.

Saleh has also banned politicians and lawmakers from traveling with their ubiquitous security details (usually traveling in a convoy of blacked-out vehicles) inside Kabul. Unsurprisingly, that move has attracted criticism from some senators, but has been welcomed by residents and other politicians.

Zaki Nadery, a Kabul resident, said the nation was “thirsty for reform” and that people already feel more secure in the city now that steps have been taken against lawbreakers, a sentiment echoed by several people interviewed by Arab News.

“People now have a relative sense of psychological and mental security. This is the result of tangible results from the work of the new minister. People have begun to trust and respect the police,” Nadery said.